Other than food, shelter, and water, I think that light is the most important thing you need when you go camping and backpacking. I know that many people rely on a campfire for light, but what do you do when it’s fire season? Besides, I can’t imagine going outside to go pee in the middle of the night would be, if I didn’t have my headlamp. You, there are bears and holes and trees. Or creeper deer that because you don’t have a light, you think is a mountain lion (true story). A light source should be one of your top camping essentials.
There are many different types of outdoor camping lights, and it really depends on what you will be using it for when you choose what you need. Most of the camping lights we have, we also use at home in case of a power outage. Our family has found that it is recommended to have multiple types of lights, including solar-powered and battery-powered, especially if you are using these lights in case of emergencies.
In this guide, you will find recommendations and reviews for lanterns, headlamps, and string lights, that are rechargeable, solar-powered, and use batteries. The majority of these lanterns and lights are under $50.00 because good outdoor gear can be affordable. Many of them are even under $30.00. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the right type of lights for your next camping trip. I have found that it is always a good idea to have multiple light sources and light options when you care camping.
Because there are so many different types of lights, I have recommendations for the following:
- Camping Solar Lights
- Camping Light/ Charger Combo
- Camping Lanterns
- Tent Lights
- Camping String Lights
- Kids Camping Lights
- Other Innovative Camping Lights
Best Camping Solar Lights
Solar camping lights are fantastic for camping, especially because you don’t need to rely on batteries or electricity to charge your lights. These lights have a small solar panel that charges your lantern or light, so no battery or electricity required. However, I have noticed that light from a solar-powered lantern, usually isn’t as bright. The downside to solar charging is that if your light dies in the middle of the night, you have to wait until daylight to recharge it. Also, the lights take longer to charge during the day depending on the weather conditions, especially on rainy days and you may have to move your device throughout the day in order to follow the light of the sun. The biggest positive of using solar lights is that they are usually more lightweight and environmentally friendly than other lights. These are my top picks for solar lights.
1. Luminaid Solar Lantern
Luminaid Solar Lantern – This little light is not only solar-powered, but it’s very lightweight and compact. It’s an inflatable lantern. Its small size makes it ideal for backpacking, and I usually just hang it on my backpack so that it can charge. Luminaid also donates a portion of its proceeds to third-world countries and disaster relief. Because it is inflatable, be sure to keep it away from the heat so it doesn’t melt.
2. MPOWERD Luci Light
MPOWERD Luci Light – This is another inflatable little lantern that is very bright. I like the fact that it’s inflatable because not only does it save space, but it also floats. This light can also be charged with a USB. This one is fairly durable but it can pop. To patch these, you can use a seam sealer or a bike repair kit.
3. RUNACC Solar-Powered Work Light
RUNACC Solar-Powered Work Light – Solar-powered work lights are probably the best solution for lighting up a large area. Because they are made for outdoor workspaces, they are very durable and bright. These are almost as bright as electric lanterns .
4. Aimoxa Clover Camping Light
AiMoxa Clover Camping Light – This was the first solar-powered light that I ever bought. Because of its shape, you can easily adjust the direction of the light to where you need it. This light can also be charged via USB. This one lasts the longest and charges more quickly than some of the other solar-powered lanterns because you can easily adjust the solar panels.
5. NanaHome Camping Lantern
NanaHome Camping Lantern – This is probably the most affordable solar power lantern. It can also be charged via USB. What I like best about this one, is not only the cost, but you can carry it and even convert it into a flashlight.
6. Goal Zero Crush Light
Goal Zero Crush Light – If you are looking for the most durable and lightweight camping lantern for backpacking, then this is the best choice. Just remember to take it off of demo mode when you purchase it. It is made out of silicone and easily collapses. This lantern doesn’t rely on just solar, you can charge it as well. It has different color modes and brightness levels. It’s not extremely bright, so it’s good for inside your tent. It will last 2-3 hours on the brightest setting and the dimmest setting about 12-14 hours.
The Best Camping Light/ Charger Combos
Gadgets that are multi-purpose are always a good choice. I have chosen to include the following lamps because not only can they be used as a lantern, but they can also be used as a flashlight and/or battery pack/charging port for charging mobile devices. It’s important to note that these all have both a small solar panel and a rechargeable battery.
1. Tansoren Camping Lantern
Tansoren Camping Lantern – These lights can be charged via solar, USB, or even replacement batteries. They are smaller than some camping lanterns and can also be used as a phone charger. This is my choice in case of power outages. You don’t have to worry about charging them with the sun unless you need to. I would recommend getting the multi-pack.
2. MPOWERD Luci Light With Charger
MPOWERED Luci Light With Charger – This is your best option for backpacking. Not only is it light-weight, but you can also charge your phone. You can also charge this gadget via USB, so if you have two options for charging: solar energy and electricity. Just remember to keep it away from the heat and sharp objects.
3. Luminaid Lamp With Charger
Lumunaid Lamp with Charger – The Luminaid has different modes of brightness so that you can change the light with solar and electricity, as well as use it as an emergency power bank. I find that if you charge this one via USB, the light lasts much longer.
4. Goal Zero Lighthouse
Goal Zero Lighthouse – For any camping light combo, this is the best choice. It can be converted from a hanging lantern to a standing lantern. This lantern can be charged via USB, solar, and also cranking with the hand crank. One minute of hand cranking will create enough dim light for ten minutes. And, you can also use it as a portable charger. This light is the most durable out of all of the other solar lantern combos and weighs a little over a pound. It also has warm white light so it is not overly bright. This also comes in two sizes and the light is dimmable.
5. Mesquool Ultra Bright Camping Lantern
Mesqool Ultra Bright Camping Lantern – This light is the longest-lasting light and can be used as a flashlight or backup charger. It may be the brightest but there are three different ways to charge it: solar, USB, and hand crank. On a single charge, it can last up to 36 continuous hours.
6. Lighting Ever Camping Lantern
Lighting Ever Camping Lantern – Out of all of the combos in this list, this is my favorite. It doubles as a lantern and a flashlight has a very bright light and is charged via USB. It also can be used as a portable power station. My favorite features are the affordable price and the handle. The handle is very comfortable and heavy-duty whereas some of the other lanterns have a flimsier handle. This one would be an excellent choice for families and car camping. As a light source, this lantern does the job.
Best Battery-Powered and Rechargeable Camping Lanterns
Sometimes, all you need is just a basic camping lantern with no bells or whistles. You do not need something fancy if you are looking for a simple camping lantern. It just needs to provide enough light for your needs and be durable.
1. 1TAC Camping Lantern
1TAC Camping Lantern – This is my number one choice for good light for the campsite. It’s easy to carry because it has a handle, and you can easily attach it by the handles or with the magnet to many surfaces. I actually keep these at home and in the car for emergencies. I have stuck them on my fridge and freezer so it’s easy to find them in the dark. This is the longest-lasting lantern I have ever owned and I like the fact that it is compact and the light itself retracts into the body. Closed, it is about 6″ high, and when open it is about 10″ high. It can be hung from both ends, on a tree branch or in the tent, or on an awning. I have noticed with many retractable camping lanterns, that sometimes you have to jiggle the lantern when you open it to get the light to turn on ut I have never had that problem with this one. The only downside with this lantern, and it isn’t really anything negative, is sometimes I wish it could be recharged.
2. Lepro Camping Lantern
Lepro Camping Lantern – If you are looking for a larger lantern that lasts the longest, then this is the top choice. It’s extremely durable, and because it uses D batteries, it provides more light longer than any other light you’ll have. As with most Lepro lanterns, it is waterproof. Its smaller size and huge light output are ideal for camping and it provides plenty of light.
3. GearLight Camping Lantern
GearLight Camping Lantern – This is considered the brightest, the most durable, and the longest-lasting camping light. You can also hang it upside down, carry it, or just set it down. It is able to handle getting knocked over or bumped, without any issues. This lantern also has a variety of lighting modes. I have found that this lantern has enough light for my camp kitchen or drink station. This lantern uses three D batteries, so it’s guaranteed to last for quite a while.
4. MalloMe Camping Lantern
MalloMe Camping Lantern – If you are looking to save money, this is the most affordable lantern currently and a great choice. . I will be honest, I didn’t think that because of how low the price is, these would make great lanterns but I was pleasantly surprised how bright and durable they really are. This is also the perfect size for little kids and easy to grip. These lanterns come in really cool colors.
Best Tent Lights for Camping
No one likes fumbling around with a flashlight when they are trying to find something in their tent. I always have a light designated for just the tent so all I have to do is turn it on. If you choose to have a tent light, I would recommend one that can hang inside. Of course, you can always set a pattern down but hanging it up is more practical. Imagine knocking it over and then you can’t find it, whereas, with a hanging tent light, you can fasten it above you and don’t have to hunt for it.
1. AlltroLite Mini
AlltroLite Mini – this little compact lantern is a good option for inside a tent when dimmed or in your camping area. It does require three aaa batteries but for the price, the magnet on the bottom to adhere to metal surfaces and that it is water-resistant makes it the perfect little light for tent camping. I do wish it was rechargeable but this works for what we need and is perfect for outdoor use. This light is also compact and bright enough to use as a flashlight in the middle of the night when you need to go to the restroom. I also find that this light has the longest battery life than other camping lights and on a full charge (new batteries), can last several days. This is a great option if you are looking for a versatile light.
2. Black Diamond Moji Lantern
Black Diamond Moji Lantern – This is considered the most durable of camping lanterns for tents. The positives about this lantern are that is smaller and you can easily hang it in your tent with the metal loops on the bottom or set it on a surface. It’s bright enough for a tent but may not be bright enough for illuminating a camping site. This lantern does use batteries and is not rechargeable. I do notice that I fumble to find the switch in the dark, so this would be a negative. Black Diamond is a trusted brand in outdoor gear.
3. LIT-PaTH Camping Light
LIT-PaTH Camping Light – This tent light is the winner for versatility and price. This tent light is a combo lantern, with a flashlight or lantern mode and can also be used as a phone charger. The LIT-PaTH lantern feature has four different modes and the flashlight option has three differnt modes. Hang it on a hook or use the magnet on the bottom. It can be recharged via a USB power source, so no batteries or solar charging needed.
Best Headlamps for Camping
Nowadays, you can get headlamps for really cheap. That is a good thing because it always seems that we have to buy new ones every year. They get lost or broken. With headlamps, you want to keep in mind the brightness, how well they fit, if they are adjustable, how long the battery life is and how durable they are when you are purchasing them. Just remember to keep a fresh set of batteries in case you need them.
1. UCO Beta
UCO Beta – This is my personal favorite. I have had mine for three years now and I still love it. I love how soft the band is, that it’s easy to adjust the band and also the angle of the light, and how bright it is. This is a hinge design, so it’s easier to adjust the angle of the light. I particularly like how well it looks as well as how lightweight it is.
2. Black Diamond Storm 375
Black Diamond Storm 375 – Black Diamond is known for its well-made and durable products and that quality is also in its headlamps. My husband has had his Black Diamond since he was a teenager and it still works amazing. Though this one costs a bit more than some other headlamps, it truly is a lifetime investment. This headlamp is a good all-purpose headlamp and is waterproof, so take it camping or kayaking or use it while repairing the truck.
3. Gearlight Headlamp
Gearlight Headlamp – This is the most versatile headlamp, with seven different settings, has a pivoting light, and is super light at only 3 ounces with batteries. This is the most affordable, quality headlamp you can find. My kids have had these for years and abused the heck out of them, but they still work awesome. Plus, because they are affordable, it’s okay if one of them breaks.
Best Camping String Lights
String lights are often used while camping for either ambiance, lighting, or both. There is nothing like the ambient light of a string of fairy lights to create the mood in any outdoor space. The only thing I worry about when using string lights is if there is heavy rain or wind. You can use Christmas tree lights if you have a power outlet, but that is not always practical while camping. If you want to use a set of string lights for camping, I recommend outdoor string lights that use solar power or batteries instead.
1. MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights
MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights – These solar-powered lights are amazing and perfect for any camping trip. They are my number one choice for several reasons and this system has some important features. The ambiance of these lights is similar to Christmas lights. This is a long string of lights at 18 feet, yet these lights take up very little space when they are put away. You can charge them up using solar or USB. These string lots can also be used to charge other small devices with their power bank, including your phone. With about 20 hours of “burn time”, these could easily last you the whole trip if you use them just at night.
2. Brightech Ambience Pro
Brightech Ambiance Pro – If you are looking for something bright and fancy, these outdoor bistro lights are amazing. They are solar-powered with replaceable Edison-style light bulbs and perfect for lighting up your camp kitchen or outside your RV or glamping tent. These lights come in two sizes: 27 feet or 48 feet. The Brightech ambiance pro lights are heavy-duty, and wind and water-resistant. The bulbs are shatterproof so one less worry when you have bad weather. A single charge will get you between 5-6 hours of light.
3. Luminoodle Rope Lights
Luminoodle Rope Lights – I found these to be the best rope lights after trying different ones These come in five feet or 10 feet lengths, with LED bulbs encased in the tubing. The Luminoodle (depending on which one you get) has at least 8 different modes including different brightness levels and colors. Most of the Luminoodle lights can be adjusted with a remote control and a fun choice for camp lighting with all color options. The only downside to these lights is that they cannot be charged and are instead powered by USB, so you would need a separate battery pack
Best Camping Flashlights
When choosing a flashlight, it really depends on what you’re looking for and if you are camping or backpacking. Even though I mostly rely on my headlamp, it doesn’t hurt to have a flashlight. The biggest thing you need to consider is if it is rechargeable or uses batteries. If you are buying a flashlight that uses batteries, it’s wise to get one that uses AA or AAA because these are the most common batteries. If you choose a rechargeable one, consider how long it will last without needing a charge. For this section, I have picked the three flashlights that I feel are durable and useful.
1. Gearmatte Mini Flashlight
Wurkkos Mini Flashlight – This is the best pocket flashlight for camping that is rechargeable. It’s really bright, small and lightweight. What I like the most about it, is that it is waterproof and shockproof. With its magnetic base, it’s also great when you need to work on the car at night. It’s less than six inches long and a little over an inch wide. And it has a little clip on the side so you can clip it to a belt or pocket. This is the brightest mini flashlight that I could find. It’s rechargeable and does not need to be recharged often.
Maglight – If you want the most reliable and durable flashlight on the market, then you want a mag light. These are shock and water-resistant and last forever. This is what I used in the Israeli Army when I was doing rounds. I do wish they were lighter and rechargeable. These are pretty heavy compared to other flashlights but are almost indestructible.
3. EverBrite Flashlight
EverBrite Flashlight – If you’re looking for something simple, affordable, and small, then this is the flashlight for you. It also makes a great stocking stuffer for kids. What I love best about this flashlight, is there is a little lanyard attached so you can attach it to a pack or anything else with a carabiner.
Best Camping Lights for Kids
For little kids, you might want to consider some other options. Even though adult camping lights are practical for kids too, sometimes something fun and made for little hands makes the dark less intimidating. I know that one of the things parents struggle with when camping with kiddos, is a fear of the dark.
1. Coleman Kids Lamp
Coleman Kids Lamp – Coleman is the oldest and most trusted outdoor brand in my opinion and their gear lasts forever. I think every camper has at least one item that they have had forever, that is made by Coleman. So why not get your kids these Coleman lamps, made especially for kids? They come in bright colors and are just the right size for little ones. These require four AAA batteries and are made to last.
2. Night Ize Bug Lit
Night Ize Bug Lit – This little LED flashlight is perfect for kiddos. The button is not hard to press and it easily attaches to a zipper or jacket. This is my number one choice for little hands. Plus, it comes in cool colors and the flexible legs can be twisted to attach to all sorts of things.
3. Ozark Trail Kids Headlamp and Lantern
Ozark Trail Animal Kids Headlamp and Lantern – I love combo deals and this set from Ozark Trail is perfect for kids. Check out the shark or the owl. These are easy to use and kids love them. Because these are so kid-friendly, it really helps with any issues of being afraid of the dark.
Innovative and Useful Camping Lights
Looking for other innovative light solutions for camping? Check out these other innovative and useful light for camping.
1. UCO Candle Lantern
UCO Candle Lantern – This candle lantern burns for nine hours and is built to safely burn, with a heat shield so it can be carried or hung up. Just remember any type of lantern that burns should not be used in a tent or close area because of possible carbon monoxide poisoning. These are perfect for setting out on a picnic table.
2. MPOWERD Luci Candle Light
MPOWERD Luci Candle Light – This solar-powered “candle” lantern is perfect for when you want candles but doesn’t want to use real ones. It’s also perfect for you want a light that isn’t harsh in your tent. Because it doesn’t weigh a lot, it makes a good tent lantern for backpacking.
3. UCO Stakelight Tent Stakes
UCO Stakelight Tent Stakes – These are marvelous camping inventions. I can’t tell you how many times I have stumbled outside of the tent. These stake lights not only brighten the area outside your tent, but they are functioning tent stakes. I found these a few years back and absolutely love them.
4. Coleman Gas Lantern
Coleman Gas Lantern – Coleman lanterns last forever. I know people that have some of the original Coleman lanterns from 1914 and still work. This lantern uses propane and runs off of a small propane cylinder. It’s always important when using this lantern though, to check the fire restrictions.
5. Coghlan’s Cooler Light
Coghlan’s Cooler Light – This light is extremely practical, especially if you are looking for something to drink in your cooler at night. Besides, I need to include at least one of Coghlan’s gear items. They are one of the oldest camping gear companies.
6. RUNACC Camping Lantern Bug Zapper
RUNNAC Camping Lantern Bug Zapper – If you are going camping and the bugs are bad, try out this camping lantern and bug zapper combo. It’s rechargeable too, so that is always a plus. Ours has been very helpful, especially when the flies are bad.
7. MPOWERD Luci Explore
MPOWERD Luci Explore – With all of the features that MPOWERD is known for, you know this is an awesome light. It is a solar-powered camping lantern, speaker and phone charger. We think this is the coolest lantern on this list. Plus, it has so many features including a wake-up light, blue-tooth controlled and no batteries needed. Did I mention all of the color combos?
Do you have a favorite camping light not listed here? I know there are some lanterns that are way more expensive than the ones listed here, but these ones here are just as good if not better. Be sure to drop a comment below so that we can check it out. I’d love to hear what your camp lighting solutions are. Light the night and be outside with no limits.